Zero Eight . 08 . 零八

Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images

Happen to catch the Beijing Olympics 2008 Opening Ceremony at my grandma’s place after I gave her some stuffs that I bought in Montreal. I was rather emotional when I was watching the broadcast on television and therefore decided to record down the fine moments of the ceremony.

The ceremony opened in a way that just takes your breathe away. 2008 drummers hitting the drum in synchrony was superb and gave an extremely strong opening. How they manage to coordinate all the drummers is a mystery; especially the part where the LED back lights were involved in the countdown portion. SIMPLY PHENOMENAL~ And when the stadium dropped to total darkness, with only the illuminating drum sticks hitting away at the drums, it was another superb visual effect.

“有朋自远方来,不亦乐乎!” Announced all the drummers. From the close up shots, one could feel how proud each performers are of their country. Very heartwarming indeed.

FP PHOTO / Joe Klamar

Next was 29 footsteps of fireworks that were released from various locations along Beijing central axis all the way to the stadium. Interesting way of representing the 29th Olympiad. Then indoor fireworks were released, with the “sparkling dust” gathering at the centre of the stadium to form the Olympic rings. And magically, the rings floated up… MY GOD. Superb use of lighting and superb coordination between the fireworks, the back projection on the stadium floor, and wires.

Adam Pretty/Getty Images

The multimedia presentation of the process of paper making was transposed onto a real paper scroll in the middle of the stadium. Very good concept: playing between the projection screen and the stage. The video presentation provides time and more importantly, distraction, so that the next set of performers have time to prepare and set up the central stage. Upon watching the opening ceremony the second time, I realize that the paper was not “unraveled” by the scroll. It was another well coordination between the back projections on the stadium floor and the 3D scroll. Then the painting on the paper using dance actions was brilliant. Artistic, and it showed off the skills of the talents China has very well.

Then came the “three thousand disciples” of Confucius. The costumes are very typical of Zhang Yimou’s movies. Hur hur~ They give a very impressive visual feel by the sheer number of performers. But what was even more impressive was the moving type characters. I thought the print characters were computer controlled!! Spending over a year to achieve this level of coordination is AMAZING

*Ahem* Then the opening ceremony lost me from the opera section onwards. Fast forward… Oh, but I liked the way that the painting was being used continuously at different parts of the performance. It provides a form of continuity across the performance.

Suddenly I woke up at the neon green men section. This part onwards depict a more modern and forward looking China. The neon men had their LED lights switched on progressively as they walked out of the canvas. Once again, I wonder if this was computer controlled. Then *BOOM* the green men stacked up on one another and reproduced an exact visual replica of the stadium with its iconic bird nest structure.

Taichi performance was next. The part that was interesting was the choice of using translucent black cloth as a screen for the images to be projected onto. Cool~ This is also the start of the efficient use of the enormous plasma screen that encircles the stadium at the top. The waterfall and birds flight video sequence used the screen impressively.

*Ahem* Then fast forward… Oh, but I loved the part where thousands of smiling face fireworks were released. Cute~

Ah~ Lighting of flame cauldron by Li Ning. His sudden accent into the sky was not surprising anymore given that the close camera shots had already given hints of the suspension lines. BUT the unraveling of the scroll on the plasma screen was MAGNIFICENT. Another superb coordination between the multimedia presentation and the real world. Extremely dramatic, and it built up to the revealing of the great torch that was hidden from view all the while. Then with a jet of flames, the torch tower was lit.

Welcome to the 29th Olympiad.

Clive Rose/Getty Images

Notes & Random Thoughts

  • All photos were taken from an article in
  • I have to give it to the six(?) year old girl who sang in front of 91000 strong audience in the stadium.
  • Instead of lighting the fireworks only above the stadium, whole streets of Beijing were lit up by the fireworks.
  • If you looked carefully, the video presentation on the left side of the stadium floor was slightly not synchronized at the neon green men part.
  • Li Ning lost 10kg across the one month period that he spent rehearsing as the final torch bearer.
  • Initially I was a little put off for the choice of the opening date for Olympics. 8 August 2008, 8.08pm? Isn’t that a little too much emphasis on the number eight? But I realized that it was a great decision. How else to emphasize the significance of that number in Chinese culture? Since it was meant to be a display of 4000 years of Chinese history and culture, one should do it all the way.
  • Choosing director Zhang Yimou to direct the ceremony was a brilliant choice. He has done Hero, House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower, all with impressive scenes involving casts of thousands. If good directors can create equally impressive ceremonies, if I may extrapolate, shouldn’t we give Royston Tan a chance to direct Singapore’s National Day Parade? It would bring a fresh touch to the parade and is a display of the government’s confidence in allowing uprising youths to take charge.

5 thoughts on “Zero Eight . 08 . 零八

  1. yeah! its a superb openings! and i watched twice! there are lots of surprise and “wow” during that 3hrs+ openings.

    not only 080808 8:08pm, they also using 2008 performers for most of the different opening section.

  2. Heh~ It cost China reportedly 300 million USD to produce the opening ceremony. I’d be very stressed if I am part of the London 2012 Olympics committee. Not only will the opening ceremony will be contrasted against China’s, they also have to pull it off with a tighter budget of 140 million USD.

  3. Pingback: Lights… Camera… Action. « Thoughts of a Diurnal

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